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Does this year's schedule mean the NFL wants the Bills out of Buffalo?

By RICK WOODSON
On Sports
Rochester Business Journal
October 19, 2012

First, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not a part-owner of the Buffalo Bills. I'm not saving or collecting money to try to buy the team from the Wilson family when Mr. Ralph passes. And I didn't bet my last dime on the Bills to cover the point spreads against the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
 
And no, Buffalo coach Chan Gailey and I are not related, even though we both sound like a couple of ol` Southern boys-well, I sort of do and he really does!
 
Therefore, this is not an excuse or explanation for why the Bills have often been a walking, talking disaster so far this season. I'm not trying to explain why they gave up 1,201 yards and 97 points against New England and San Francisco. That's a LOT, which also stands for Lack Of Talent.
 
My question is this: Why in the name of jet lag does a team that lives close to the Atlantic Ocean get forced to play back-to-back games out by the Pacific Ocean? I mean, the Bills couldn't even come back to Buffalo before they'd have to jump back on a plane and go to Phoenix. Well, they could've, but they chose not to, given the travel time, etc.
 
So they left the City by the Bay and went right to Phoenix to get ready for the Cardinals. They slept in strange beds, practiced in a facility they aren't accustomed to, ate other foods and did whatever tourists do when they get tired of twiddling their thumbs. And what do you know? They beat the Cardinals-but only because Arizona kicker Jay Feely blew a 38-yard field goal attempt after making a 61-yarder.
 
Meanwhile, New England played at Seattle last Sunday (and lost), but this Sunday the Patriots host the New York Jets. Why aren't they scheduled to play at San Francisco, so they could enjoy a wonderful week on the West Coast, sleeping in strange beds?
 
The New York Giants must be jealous of the Bills, because the Giants were at San Fran last Sunday but come home this week to play the Washington Redskins. Bummer, huh?
 
If you haven't noticed, four of the Bills' final five games will be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, starting Dec. 2 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another dumb move, unless you think football is much more fun to watch when it's 25 degrees and maybe snowing so hard that some fans can't even see the field.
 
Ah ha! Suddenly, I think I might know the answer to why this schedule happened! Maybe the NFL wants the Bills out of Buffalo. It's not a major market, even though thousands of fans from Rochester, the rest of Western New York and Ontario, Canada, go there to spend a Sunday afternoon crying in their beer. But if the team keeps stinking up the place, which it has for 12 seasons now, lack of interest might drive the franchise to a bigger market.
 
Then there's the issue of upgrading Ralph Wilson Stadium, which reportedly would cost more than $200 million. Former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski told the Buffalo News recently, "A new stadium would cost an exorbitant amount of money, although I would like it, and many others in Western New York and southern Ontario would like it. But realistically, I don't think it's in the cards."
 
The bottom line: Sell the Bills to somebody in Timbuktu, tear down the stadium and break our hearts. Will it happen? I won't be surprised if it does, but I hope not. We'll see. We all just hope the Bills will get better on the field, not get out of town.
 
And speaking of schedules, how about the Rochester Red Wings? Despite my semi-Gailey accent, I've been in Rochester for 35 years now because I love it here, but I have never quite understood why the Red Wings have so many home games in April. This past April, the Wings played 13 of their first 17 games at Frontier Field and got lucky because we had a mild "spring."
 
Typically, games here in April are more likely to be snowed out than rained out. And I don't care what MLB commissioner Bud Selig says; baseball was never supposed to be watched in person when the temperature is in the 40s and fans are sipping coffee instead of beer.
 
Which brings me to another point that I can't help but mention every decade or so: World Series games shouldn't be played at night. I remember the good ol' days when the Series games were in the afternoon and almost everybody in the newsroom would gather in the publisher's office to watch the game on TV-black-and-white, of course.
 
It's amazing and sometimes sad how things change. And never change back.

Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at www.rbjdaily.com. His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at www.authorhouse.com/bookstore. Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.10/19/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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